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Mahon findings to 'coincide with FF Ard Fheis'

A PROMINENT Fine Gael TD has revealed that the Mahon Tribunal report is due out in February -- and its publication could coincide with the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis.

"After 14 years and an estimated cost of €90m, the last six years focused on Bertie Ahern, a man who lacks a sense of shame," Fine Gael TD Derek Keating told a constituency meeting last week.

In an astonishing attack on the former Taoiseach, he said: "He has dishonoured public service politics. As Pat Rabbite said, 'this goes back to the corrosive influence of Haughey, where he learnt his political trade'. He has stained all hard-working politicians with 'sure you're all the same'."

The Fine Gael TD said that many people blamed business figures "such as Seanie FitzPatrick or Michael Fingleton, mandarins such as Patrick Neary or politicians such as Brian Cowen or Charlie McCreevy for our woes, with some justification -- this tribunal report will tell us a lot about how our country got into where we are.

"In my view it will serve some purpose but the cost to the Exchequer and the cost to our democratic system is immense.

"Our country was humiliated by the disgraceful behaviour of Bertie Ahern and Fianna Fail. Only one member of Fianna Fail, to my knowledge, Senator Averil Power, has stated the party was at fault, and failed the country, when she said, 'there must be no place for anybody who thinks it's acceptable to carry around suitcases full of cash, give loans to friends from party funds or refuse to answer reasonable questions about their rather unorthodox financial arrangements'. An amazing and brave admission by a new honourable person but the silence of her party leader is deafening."

Mr Keating said that at no stage did any senior member of Fianna Fail oppose the leadership of Mr Ahern. "Loyalty to the 'boss' came before fidelity to their electorate or the country. All that energy that was wasted on this issue.

"It should have been spent on preparing for a 'hard landing'. A man who wasn't addicted to the buzz of holding power for the sake of power would have allowed us to move on," he said.

"Judge Mahon is going to report shortly and the findings will be helpful in getting some insight into why the Government of Ahern and Cowen put this country into bankruptcy.

"What I believe is needed is some form of recompense, some sort of public action by the Oireachtas to address the shameful way Fianna Fail has refused to acknowledge its wrongdoing," he concluded.

Sunday Independent